A vigorous ethical and policy debate has unfolded over the past few decades about the way in which genetic resources are used, and their benefits shared, encapsulated by the Convention on Biological Diversity and its Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilisation which has recently entered into force.
A recurring problem with this so-called access and benefit sharing (ABS) policy process is a limited understanding of the commercial sectors using biodiversity, the science and technology that underpin bioprospecting and biodiscovery, and the market, industry and societal trends that drive demand for access to genetic resources and shape benefit sharing. Policy and practice are thus often out of kilter and the conceptual basis of ABS remains murky and unrefined. This theme thus aims to strengthen the conceptual underpinnings of ABS through enhanced understanding about implications for commercial sectors involved in the global and national bio-economy, and their responses to environmental and equity considerations.
The research includes global reviews of the key sectors (e.g. pharmaceuticals, herbal medicine, nutraceuticals, industrial biotechnology, agriculture, personal care and cosmetics, food and beverage) involved in the commercial use of biodiversity, providing a cutting-edge and unique analysis of the scientific and technological developments that underpin biodiscovery, and the market, industry and societal trends that drive demand for access to genetic resources and shape benefit sharing, economic development and environmental sustainability. It also includes the development of practical tools and materials to guide providers in particular, but also users, of genetic resources and traditional knowledge when seeking to enter into ABS partnerships and agreements.
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